“A Little Better”

Located on the corner of Olympic + Robertson Blvd. in Beverly Hills, California is this establishment:

helios_02 (johnstonmarklee)

Welcome to Helios House by Office dA and Johnston Marklee

During construction, I remember how BP took much care to conceal what was going on behind their 15-ft. high white tarp fences. They even bought both billboards that flank the site which included mysterious captions and fresh imagery to keep the public enticed. It certainly caught my attention and was almost-always a conversation starter. I was actually excited to see its reveal; and once revealed, I was even more excited to become a patron. Personally, I think it’s cool with an equally cool Green/sustainable design concept, however, I know some architects who equally hate it.

Unfortunately, Helios House is now an being marketed as an ARCO and the red & blue ARCO sign has replaced the refreshing white & green BP logo. I think, in part, because of (2) reasons:

  1. Most people don’t like change. Especially with a facility that is more-or-less utilitarian in nature. And as with anything new, people are apprehensive to try it. The design of the building is susceptible to alienate its customers; and with a Shell station catty-cornered with competitive prices, there isn’t a demand to patron an abstract building just to fill up their gas tanks. They stick to what is familiar.
  2. It was a BP. Although British Petroleum (BP) owns both ARCO and AMPM, BP’s presence (as “BP”) in the greater Los Angeles area is lacking. In addition, the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is still fresh in some people’s minds.

So, futuristic-looking facility + seemingly unfamiliar gas company = consumer reluctance. It might have lasted longer as a BP in the sustainable-forward city of Santa Monica rather than in traditional, semi-time-warped Beverly Hills.

But of course, I had to check out the restroom and all I’m going to say is that I’ll take that over any other gas station any day! Check it out!

helios house

Helios House is more than just a gas station. There are numerous articles about this landmark and instead of reiterating/rewording the verbage, I’ve included some links below if you’d like to know more information:

Photo Credit: Unknown (from Johnston Marklee website)
PDF file copyright © BP
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